Is Joe Biden Fit to Serve?

The Replace Biden bandwagon continues rolling. Evidence is mounting that he needs to get on it.

You likely saw Wednesday’s front-page NYT report “Biden’s Lapses Are Said to Be Increasingly Common and Worrisome.” It begins:

In the weeks and months before President Biden’s politically devastating performance on the debate stage in Atlanta, several current and former officials and others who encountered him behind closed doors noticed that he increasingly appeared confused or listless, or would lose the thread of conversations.

Like many people his age, Mr. Biden, 81, has long experienced instances in which he mangled a sentence, forgot a name or mixed up a few facts, even though he could be sharp and engaged most of the time. But in interviews, people in the room with him more recently said that the lapses seemed to be growing more frequent, more pronounced and more worrisome.

[…]

The recent moments of disorientation generated concern among advisers and allies alike. He seemed confused at points during a D-Day anniversary ceremony in France on June 6. The next day, he misstated the purpose of a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine when meeting with its president.

On June 10, he appeared to freeze up at an early celebration of the Juneteenth holiday. On June 18, his soft-spoken tone and brief struggle to summon the name of his homeland security secretary at an immigration event unnerved some of his allies at the event, who traded alarmed looks and later described themselves as “shaken up,” as one put it. Mr. Biden recovered, and named Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

He is certainly not that way all the time. In the days since the debate debacle, aides and others who encountered him, including foreign officials, described him as being in good shape — alert, coherent and capable, engaged in complicated and important discussions and managing volatile crises. They cited example after example in cases where critical national security issues were on the line.

Given the Independence Day holiday, you may have missed the report AP published late Wednesday night headlined “Biden at 81: Often sharp and focused but sometimes confused and forgetful.”

President Joe Biden’s conduct behind closed doors, in the Oval Office, on Air Force One and in meetings around the world is described in the same dual way by those who regularly see him in action.

He is often sharp and focused. But he also has moments, particularly later in the evening, when his thoughts seem jumbled and he trails off mid-sentence or seems confused. Sometimes he doesn’t grasp the finer points of policy details. He occasionally forgets people’s names, stares blankly and moves slowly around the room.

Biden’s occasional struggles with focus may not be unusual for someone his age. But at 81 years old and seeking another four years in the White House, the moments when he’s off his game have taken on a fresh resonance following his disastrous debate performance against Republican Donald Trump. The president appeared pale, gave nonsensical answers, stared blankly and lost his train of thought.

The June 27 faceoff alarmed Democrats and his financial backers, in part, because Biden seemed so much worse than during the almost routine moments when he’s less sharp. And that has raised questions about whether he’s up for a campaign that’s only going to get nastier and whether he can effectively govern for another four years if he wins.

But there have been other notable signs in recent weeks, from Biden’s constrained itinerary during a recent visit to France to his flat demeanor during a big-dollar Hollywood fundraiser with top stars.

[…]

The way Biden acts in private, according to regular observers, often tracks how he comes off publicly. In both settings, he can be commanding one day and halting another.

A day after his debate blunder, Biden’s voice at a North Carolina rally was forceful, his eyes alert, his delivery confident. As he spoke, cheers filled the room.

“I give you my word as a Biden. I would not be running again if I didn’t believe with all my heart and soul I can do this job,” he told supporters. “Because, quite frankly, the stakes are too high.”

But sometimes, Biden speaks so softly that it is difficult to make out his words even with a microphone. He’ll stop mid-sentence and trail off during speeches. At other times he runs the room, leading the audience, joking and shaking hands with thrilled supporters, in clear command of the moment. His gait is often stiff, but sometimes he jogs.

[…]

One person who spends time with Biden regularly said there have been visible signs of his aging over the past year that the president’s team has failed to fully address. The debate performance accelerated concerns about what was already a slow-moving problem, even if Biden has offered assurances that he can still effectively govern.

Biden’s advisers have long been aggressively dismissive of questions about his age. But now they’re acknowledging that Biden’s slowdown is undeniable. The debate has forced the president to more frontally acknowledge the limitations of his age, when before he largely made light of it. But they’ve taken only largely cosmetic steps to minimize its prominence in the public eye.

They’ve reduced his use of a long staircase to board Air Force One in favor of a shorter one, and aides often accompany him when he walks in public to make his stiff gait less noticeable. While his schedule remains busy, aides have built-in recovery stretches — long weekends or extended stays in Delaware at his Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach homes or at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland — to rest up after a grueling period of travel.

Three French officials who helped organize Biden’s visit to France earlier this month said their U.S. counterparts’ reactions to options offered for a state visit in Paris and D-Day commemorations in Normandy made them think the president’s health must be fragile.

They were told the U.S. president needed some time to rest and they felt Biden’s entourage was very protective of him.

Biden’s public interactions — with journalists especially — have been greatly limited under a mandate led by one of his top advisers, Anita Dunn. Even during major events with Democrats or other supporters, the White House sometimes limits how much time Biden spends with the audience, two people said. At best, it is a protective reflex meant to shield their longtime boss — many at the White House have been with Biden for decades. But it also can look like an effort to hide something.

New York featured a devasting report by Olivia Nuzzi yesterday titled “The Conspiracy of Silence to Protect Joe Biden.” After a longish setup about a recent speech to “a small group of powerful Democrats and rich campaign donors, trying to reassure them that he was not about to drop dead or drop out of the presidential race,” we get this:

In January, I began hearing similar stories from Democratic officials, activists, and donors. All people who supported the president and were working to help reelect him to a second term in office. Following encounters with the president, they had arrived at the same concern: Could he really do this for another four years? Could he even make it to Election Day?

Uniformly, these people were of a similar social strata. They lived and socialized in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. They did not wish to come forward with their stories. They did not want to blow a whistle. They wished that they could whistle past what they knew and emerge in November victorious and relieved, having helped avoid another four years of Trump. What would happen after that? They couldn’t think that far ahead. Their worries were more immediate.

When they discussed what they knew, what they had seen, what they had heard, they literally whispered. They were scared and horrified. But they were also burdened. They needed to talk about it (though not on the record). They needed to know that they were not alone and not crazy. Things were bad, and they knew things were bad, and they knew others must also know things were bad, and yet they would need to pretend, outwardly,that things were fine. The president was fine. The election would be fine. They would be fine. To admit otherwise would mean jeopardizing the future of the country and, well, nobody wanted to be responsible personally or socially for that.Their disclosures often followed innocent questions: Have you seen the president lately? How does he seem? Often, they would answer with only silence, their eyes widening cartoonishly, their heads shaking back and forth. Or with disapproving sounds.“Phhhhwwwaahhh.” “Uggghhhhhhhhh.” “Bbbwwhhheeuuw.” Or with a simple, “Not good! Not good!” Or with an accusatory question of their own: “Have you seen him?!”

Those who encountered the president in social settings sometimes left their interactions disturbed.Longtime friends of the Biden family, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, were shocked to find that the president did not remember their names. At a White House event last year, a guest recalled, with horror, realizing that the president would not be able to stay for the reception because, it was clear, he would not be able to make it through the reception. The guest wasn’t sure they could vote for Biden, since the guest was now open to an idea that they had previously dismissed as right-wing propaganda: The president may not really be the acting president after all.

Others told me the president was becoming increasingly hard to get ahold of, even as it related to official government business, the type of things any U.S. president would communicate about on a regular basis with high-level officials across the world. Biden instead was cocooned within mounting layers of bureaucracy, spoken for more than he was speaking or spoken to.

Saying hello to one Democratic megadonor and family friend at the White House recently, the president stared blankly and nodded his head. The First Lady intervened to whisper in her husband’s ear, telling him to say “hello” to the donor by name and to thank them for their recent generosity. The president repeated the words his wife had fed him. “It hasn’t been good for a long time but it’s gotten so, so much worse,” a witness to the exchange told me. “So much worse!”

Who was actually in charge? Nobody knew. But surely someone was in charge? And surely there must be a plan, since surely this situation could not endure? I heard these questions posed at cocktail parties on the coasts but also at MAGA rallies in Middle America. There emerged a comical overlap between the beliefs of the nation’s most elite liberal Biden supporters and the beliefs of the most rabid and conspiratorial supporters of former President Trump. Resistance or QAnon, they shared a grand theory of America in 2024: There has to be a secret group of high-level government leaders who control Biden and who will soon set into motion their plan to replace Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee. Nothing else made sense. They were in full agreement.

A NYT story (“Biden Tells Governors He Needs More Sleep and Less Work at Night“) on the front page of today’s edition reports:

President Biden told a gathering of Democratic governors that he needs to get more sleep and work fewer hours, including curtailing events after 8 p.m., according to two people who participated in the meeting and several others briefed on his comments.

The remarks on Wednesday were a stark acknowledgment of fatigue from the 81-year-old president during a meeting intended to reassure more than two dozen of his most important supporters that he is still in command of his job and capable of mounting a robust campaign against former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Biden’s comments about needing more rest came shortly after The New York Times reported that current and former officials have noticed that the president’s lapses over the past few months have become more frequent and more pronounced.

But Mr. Biden told the governors, some of whom were at the White House while others participated virtually, that he was staying in the race.

He described his extensive foreign travel in the weeks before the debate, something that the White House and his allies have in recent days cited as the reason for his halting performance during the debate. Initially, Mr. Biden’s campaign blamed a cold, putting out word about midway through the debate amid a series of social media posts questioning why Mr. Biden was struggling.

Mr. Biden said that he told his staff he needed to get more sleep, multiple people familiar with what took place in the meeting said. He repeatedly referenced pushing too hard and not listening to his team about his schedule, and said he needed to work fewer hours and avoid events scheduled after 8 p.m., according to one of the people familiar with what took place at the meeting.

And prominent Democratic officials and donors are openly calling for Biden’s exit, despite his insistence that he’s going to stay in the race.

WBUR (“Moulton: Biden should exit election ‘and let new leaders rise up’“):

Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton says President Biden should bow out of the upcoming election.

Speaking with WBUR on Thursday, Moulton said he does not have confidence Biden could defeat former President Trump in November.

“President Biden has done enormous service to our country, but now is the time for him to follow in one of our founding father, George Washington’s footsteps and step aside to let new leaders rise up and run against Donald Trump,” Moulton said.

Moulton is the third sitting member of Congress to publicly say Biden shouldn’t run again — and the first from the Massachusetts delegation.

The Essex County congressman had released a statement Wednesday that questioned Biden’s ability to continue in the race but stopped short of calling for him to step aside.

The Washington Post reported 11 others have raised concerns. Moulton was more explicit Thursday, saying it was time for “a new generation of Democratic leaders.”

“The exact mechanism that we should follow in order for other leaders to rise up, whether it’s some sort of primary process, whether it goes directly to Vice President [Kamala] Harris, I’m not sure about that, that’s yet to be determined,” he said. “And that’s in many ways the substance of the deep, honest conversations that Democrats are having behind the scenes now and over the course of the past week.”

Moulton said he came to this conclusion after speaking with “dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of Democrats concerned that Trump has gained an advantage in the presidential race following Biden’s poor debate performance last week.

NYT (“Major Democratic Donors Devise Plans to Pressure Biden to Step Aside“):

After several days of quiet griping and hoping that President Biden would abandon his re-election campaign on his own, many wealthy Democratic donors are trying to take matters into their own hands.

Wielding their fortunes as both carrot and stick, donors have undertaken a number of initiatives to pressure Mr. Biden to step down from the top of the ticket and help lay the groundwork for an alternate candidate.

The efforts — some coordinated, some conflicting and others still nascent — expose a remarkable and growing rift between the party’s contributor class and its standard-bearer that could have an impact on down-ballot races, whether or not the donors influence Mr. Biden’s decision.

[…]

And financial supporters are urging elected officials at all levels to publicly pressure Mr. Biden to withdraw, signaling support for those who follow through. Some major donors like Reed Hastings have gone public with calls for Mr. Biden to stand down.

Gideon Stein, a donor and operative with deep connections in Democratic politics, said his family was withholding $3.5 million in planned donations to nonprofits and political organizations active in the presidential race unless Mr. Biden stepped aside. He said that virtually every major donor he had spoken with believed that “a new ticket is in the best interest of defeating Donald Trump.”

Abigail E. Disney, a filmmaker who is an heir to the Disney fortune, said in an email exchange that Mr. Biden’s campaign and committees supporting it — including the Democratic National Committee, super PACs and nonprofit groups — “will not receive another dime from me until they bite the bullet and replace Biden at the top of the ticket.” Ms. Disney, who has been a major Democratic donor, added, “Biden is a good man who has served his country well, but the stakes are far too high to allow timidity to determine our course of action.”

Damon Lindelof, a Hollywood producer who has donated more than $115,000 to Democrats this election cycle and who attended Mr. Biden’s fund-raiser in Hollywood last month, published an essay in Deadline urging what he called a “DEMbargo” of Mr. Biden and other Democratic candidates until or unless Mr. Biden stands down. Mr. Lindelof said in a text-message exchange, “No one is eager to donate to anyone until the proverbial dust settles.”

It’s possible that the President will allay some of these fears with his interview with George Stephanopoulos today. But the fact that he’s taping it during the day rather than doing it live past his bedtime likely isn’t helpful.

Like my co-blogger Steven Taylor, I’m skeptical that Biden will drop out of the race. Men with the ego necessary to succeed at that level of politics are prone to overestimate their abilities, and having spent decades vying for that office, it’s got to be amazingly difficult to give it up once he finally has it. Still, I’m coming around to agreeing with Adam Serwer: if Biden does drop out of the race, he should resign his post and turn the reins over to Vice President Harris.

If Biden is incapable of campaigning because of his deterioration, he is also not capable of being president. And if he is incapable of being president, then he should resign and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to take the oath of office.

Whoever holds the office should be in full control of their faculties. It does no good to point out that Trump was deranged but energetic at the debate, that he rambles incoherently, that he is a criminal, an authoritarian, and a racist. It is obviously, incontestably true that a senile president with a competent and ethical staff would be preferable to an authoritarian one who wants to fill his administration with guys who sound like school-shooter manifestos. But unfortunately Trump is propped up by a cult of personality whose members will not abandon him no matter what he does, and if Biden is unfit to debate and campaign, then he is also not fit to govern.

The earlier Biden resigns, the faster the Democratic Party can move to reunite behind the new nominee and concentrate its efforts on keeping Trump from returning to the White House. Harris would become the party’s presumptive nominee, enjoying the prestige and advantages of incumbency. She is also the only candidate who can legally access the financial war chest the Biden campaign has amassed. As Brian Beutler writes, “it’s impossible to identify the most prudent path forward with certainty.” There is no clear way to know if Harris is a politically riskier option than Biden. But if Biden’s mental state is as bad as it appeared at the debate, then there is no other choice.

There are growing indicators that the debate was not an anomaly. It’s simply how an 81-year-old man performs when he’s tired and under stress. There’s no shame in that. But there is ample reason to believe that he’s simply not up to the grueling job he’s seeking to hold until he’s 86.

If, as he himself keeps emphasizing, the very future of American democracy is at stake, then it seems that he owes it to the country to step aside if that’s the case.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    All fair points.

    Now do Donald Trump.

    ReplyReply
    15
  2. Jen says:

    Super tired of this ish already.

    I think we all know that a gerontocracy is a bad idea.

    A geron-kakistocracy is worse.

    Whenever a Democrat brings up Trump’s clear mental decline, we’re told that it’s not appropriate to diagnose from afar. As usual, only Democrats have agency.

    ReplyReply
    16
  3. just nutha says:

    Whatever happens in November, we need to be clear that neither impeachment nor the 25th amendment are adequate to the problem the nation will be facing with either of these two yahoos in office.

    ReplyReply
    5
  4. Andy says:

    As I’ve been saying, I think his candidacy is untenable but I don’t agree that he should resign the Presidency – at least not yet. For one thing, there is limited time – having Harris try to transition into the Presidency and run a short-notice campaign isn’t a reasonable proposition in my view. Biden should stay on as President, Harris should be more involved in that to learn but she should spend most of her effort on winning the election.

    @Jen:

    Republicans have agency – they used it to double-down on Trump. It would be stupid for Democrats to follow that lead and double down on Biden.

    ReplyReply
    4
  5. JKB says:

    Interesting, to “save democracy” Democrats call for ousting the democratically elected candidate from their primaries….against his will. Nice.

    ReplyReply
  6. Jen says:

    @Andy: I remain unconvinced that voters in this country will elect a woman. We haven’t come that far from 2016 (in fact, we’ve slid backwards in many ways).

    The choices for Democrats are Biden or Harris. I don’t have access (none of us do) to the Democrat’s internal polling, but there’s a fair chance they know more than we do about likely voter sentiment. I doubt this is simply a matter of generically doubling down with no data.

    @JKB: LOL. I mean, you are supporting a candidate who has called for a televised military tribunal of a former member of Congress, for no reason other than his hurt fee-fees, so maybe sit this discussion out?

    ReplyReply
    23
  7. gVOR10 says:

    I remain agnostic on these questions. Unlike most poll subjects I don’t feel compelled to have an opinion on all questions. Biden’s family, WH staff, and campaign have first hand impressions, internal polling, and quite likely competent medical opinion available to them. Atrios today captures my feelings nicely,

    Whether or not Biden should leave the race, it isn’t the shitpost left that is loudly and prominently arguing that the president – and current candidate – is incapable of functioning.

    It isn’t the shitpost left that is driving Team Biden’s absurd responses, either.

    Very Sensible Centrist big donors are running around saying Biden’ s brain doesn’t work and also their non-Harris fantasy candidate should be subbed in by the non-existent DNC Council of Elders.

    I don’t pretend to know what Biden should do. I do know a lot of people in the Party should STFU.

    ReplyReply
    8
  8. Gustopher says:

    No 80 year old has the stamina needed to be President. There will be emergencies after 8pm.

    So, no. No for both of them.

    ReplyReply
    5
  9. SenyorDave says:

    @JKB: Jen nailed it. If you support Trump after everything he has done and said maybe you shouldn’t comment on the fact that there is a debate about the fitness of a candidate. For Trump the fitness “debate” has never been a real debate. Wherever your live, you could go the state penitentiary and randomly select 100 prisoners. I would bet that more than half of them are more fit to serve as president than Trump. And most of them would have less felony convictions.

    ReplyReply
    9
  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’ve been a politics watcher since the internet let me do it. I have had to realize that there is very, very little that the president themselves needs to do that is minute-by-minute. Almost all of that stuff is delegated. A five or ten minute delay is generally not a big deal. What a modern president mostly does is set policy, set political stances, communicate, and pick staff members. It’s very high level. It means they don’t have to be policy experts to be effective, for instance.

    I won’t pretend this is a good situation. It isn’t. I don’t want to freak out over it, though. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot, ok?

    ReplyReply
    5
  11. Andy says:

    @Jen:

    I remain unconvinced that voters in this country will elect a woman.

    But you think they’ll vote for a man in clear cognitive decline? Does anyone seriously think Biden will last another four years if he somehow manages to win? No one serious believes that and certainly the public doesn’t which is why many won’t vote for him.

    And no data? We have tons of data. Biden is losing and his numbers are declining as the public gets more info on the extent of his cognitive deficits, which it turns out a lot of people knew about for a long time and hid and lied about it. In a recent thread I posted leaked internal polling which was not good for Biden. Team Biden, we should note, is not claiming their internal polling is showing Biden doing well or in the lead.

    What is the theory for victory with Biden? No one has come up with an answer to this question except for claims that Harris can’t win either. It may be true that Harris can’t win – she’s untested – but the reality is those are the choices and losing with Biden is growing more certain.

    And I’m saying all this as a person who voted for and was generally supportive of Biden more than most recent politicians. I wish he was younger and was healthy. But the reality is that he’s not, he’s not fit for another term, and previous choices have left Harris as the only alternative. The reality is that Democrats are in a situation without ideal options (to put it mildly). My view is that Biden cannot win. If that’s the case, then the only option (if one cares about Democrats winning the Presidency) which makes sense is switching to Harris even though she may not win either.

    ReplyReply
    5
  12. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    Interesting, to “save democracy” Democrats call for ousting the democratically elected candidate from their primaries….against his will. Nice.

    Worth noting that for all intents and purposes Harris is their democratically elected replacement candidate too.

    In fact that’s inherently her role on the ticket.

    For the record, the majority of American voters from both a population and EC perspective made that decision in 2020.

    Sad you can’t accept that

    ReplyReply
    8
  13. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    As I’ve been saying, I think his candidacy is untenable but I don’t agree that he should resign the Presidency – at least not yet. For one thing, there is limited time – having Harris try to transition into the Presidency and run a short-notice campaign isn’t a reasonable proposition in my view.

    I assume that Harris would inherit a lot of infrastructure for both the Presidency and the campaign that have already been built. I’m sure Harris has a few things she would really like to change (there used to be a lot of stories about her hating Buttigieg), but those can wait if they are too disruptive.

    And the Presidency involves a lot of day to day delegation — especially if everyone is covering for a manifestly unfit President. I don’t think Biden is any worse than any other 80 year old, but the worse he is, the easier it is to have things keep going.

    And if he’s just too old and gets tired, but is mentally there (my general assumption is that he panicked in the debate when he began screwing up, and it took him a while to regain his footing, and a frustrated and panicked Biden is not great at communicating, but he’s still too old), he is still available for advice during a transition. He would be out of office, not banished to the dark side of the moon.

    There are a lot of unknowns with Harris and her role as VP, so from a campaign standpoint, it would be best for her to be seen as President. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman as President. After six months of there being a woman President, the uncomfortable will be more comfortable. The bigots will still be bigots, of course.

    I don’t think Biden is going anywhere. But if he is, he should resign the Presidency.

    ReplyReply
    4
  14. Chip Daniels says:

    Nuzzi’s piece : “All Cretans are liars, says prominent Cretan.”

    If we are to believe that prominent journalists and insiders conspired to hide the truth from us and construct a false narrative, isn’t it reasonable to ask if this is happening now in the other direction?

    ReplyReply
    9
  15. DK says:

    I’m skeptical that Biden will drop out of the race.

    Soooo…all of this is moot, then? What OTB readers and anonymous sources think Biden should do doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

    @Chip Daniels: I have wondered, too. I am not automatically opposed to groupthink, but mass hysteria is the worst kind of groupthink and rarely the basis for sound decision-making. This media pile-on reeks of mass hysteria: the whiplash slope from “Biden should not run” to “Biden should resign” gives witch hunt vibes. These are big decisions. Hopefully they will made calmly and soberly, not breathlessly and wantonly.

    I hope Biden will see that only metric that matters is whether Biden or Harris is mote likely to beat Trump. And that metric should be based on data and war-gaming — not pundit class feels, panicking donors, or self-serving anonymous sources. There’s probably not yet enough data to make an informed decision, but the convention isn’t till August. So.

    ReplyReply
    6
  16. Chip Daniels says:

    @Andy:

    But you think they’ll vote for a man in clear cognitive decline?

    Yes. Current polls show exactly this.

    ReplyReply
    5
  17. Kathy says:

    What Biden should do is fire his campaign staff and hire the OTB Commentariat to tell him what to do 😉

    ReplyReply
    6
  18. Andy says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    There are a substantial number of people who would vote for a sack of potatoes as long as the sack identified with their partisan brand. If Biden fell into a coma he would still get millions of votes.

    The point is that he would lose even with those Pavlovian partisan voters. And currently, he is losing and the trend is getting worse, not better.

    ReplyReply
    3
  19. DK says:

    @Andy:

    But you think they’ll vote for a man in clear cognitive decline?

    Obviously, Trump and Biden both won their parties’ nominations lol

    ReplyReply
    5
  20. TheRyGuy says:

    And what were most commenters around here and virtually all of the mainstream media saying about Biden’s fitness to be President just two weeks ago? Do you think Biden’s decline, and all the practical realities that go with it, just started on June 26?

    And what’s most interesting is that the more you hate Trump, the more you SHOULD be angry with the media and the Democratic establishment for jamming Biden into the White House and lying to your face over and over again about his condition. Yet that is clearly not the case.

    ReplyReply
    1
  21. Andy says:

    @DK:

    Biden didn’t have a contested primary, much less one where voters understood Biden’s cognitive deficits. If there was a contested primary now, do you think Biden would win it?

    Regardless the point is about winning. Biden will obviously get votes from lots of Democratic partisans and others given the alternative of Trump, but that won’t win him the election.

    ReplyReply
  22. gVOR10 says:

    @Andy: It’s hardly Pavlovian. A Dem sack of potatoes, and its staff, and its co-partisans in Congress, would still support policies I desire, while the sociopath who is the alternative would actively oppose policies I desire. I seem to recall Dr. Taylor mentioning this phenomenon once or twice.

    ReplyReply
    8
  23. DK says:

    @TheRyGuy: But aren’t you right-wing trolls and your right wing media masters still saying crook, felon, pervert, and traitor Trump is fit to be president — when he is clearly not?

    Are you mad Trump is a rapist? Are you mad Trump hung out with Jeff Epstein for nearly 20 years and made gross comments about wanting to bang his own daughter? Are you mad Trump is a pathological liar who lies to your face over and over about nearly everything, including his 2020 loss? Are you mad Fox News lied to Trump voters to the point of paying a nearly billion dollar lawsuit? Are you mad the Republican Party jammed Trump down your throat by not impeaching him after he incited a terror attack on Congress?

    You SHOULD be angry about all of that. But you’re not, because Trump defenders are just like Trump: lying bigots with zero ethics or morals. No one here will ever take seriously lectures about Biden from you bootlicking sellouts to deranged racist thug Trump. You’re a bunch of phonies, and total hypocrites.

    ReplyReply
    9
  24. Jen says:

    @Andy:

    But you think they’ll vote for a man in clear cognitive decline?

    I mean, they voted for Trump in 2016… 😀
    (ETA: Ah, I see DK got there first…) 🙂

    Seriously though, yes, I think there is a certain category of voters who would be more likely to vote for a man–ANY MAN–over a woman. Unfortunately, it’s a category of voters that is needed to get any winning ticket to 50+1% in swing states. And that category is not just comprised of men. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “well, I’d vote for a woman, but not THAT woman…” and it doesn’t matter who that candidate is. They don’t “see” a woman in that particular job.

    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be proven wrong. But if Biden steps aside and Harris is the nominee, we’ll all be able to set our watches against the drip-drip-drip of “she’s unlikable”, “she’s too arrogant”, “she’s too stiff”, “she’s trying too hard”, “she’s not trying hard enough”, “why is she wearing that”, “what is up with her hair”, “she looks tired/sick/blah blah blah” etc. etc. etc.

    ReplyReply
    7
  25. Richard Gardner says:

    But the devil is in the details of State election laws, can Biden be replaced? The source is biased (from Heritage Oversight via Gateway Pundit) but they bring up some valid issues/concernss

    Wisconsin does not allow withdrawal from the ballot for any reason besides death, while in Nevada, no changes can be made to the ballotafter 5 p.m. on the fourth Friday in June of an election year unless ‘a nominee dies or is adjudicated insane or mentally incompetent.’ In Georgia, if Biden were to withdraw less than 60 days before the election, his name would remain on the ballot but no votes would be counted.

    Of course there could be emergency legislative changes but MAGA Republicans (I’d say the same for some Progressives, both gleeful of legal chicanery) would be likely tob lock anything. I do wonder why/who put in these legal provisions and when (locked in before the Conventions just doesn’t make sense)

    ReplyReply
  26. Jen says:

    @Richard Gardner: This is why the only candidate available is Harris. She’s on the ticket, and IIRC, it’s the ticket that is on the ballot.

    @Andy:

    And no data? We have tons of data.

    I think my point there wasn’t clear. I was saying that the *campaign* has their own data, and internal data is usually pretty accurate and detailed, in fact it’s usually more accurate than the public polls that are published (or at least it was, back in the Stone Age when I was in politics). It’s entirely possible that they know how Harris plays in the swing states, even better than we do.

    ReplyReply
    2
  27. just nutha says:

    @Andy: I find the notion that Harris has been kind of stored in a Mason Jar for 4 years amusing. She probably hasn’t had as much experience as you would prefer, but I suspect that level is unattainable and no matter what level of experience she has, you would reply, “sure, but what about…”

    At this point, I’m going to assume that you will retreat to your usual “can’t put words in my mouth/know what I think” stance. I will note that I am going with the impression I’m left with after watching you bloviate here for a decade and remind you that “what you heard is not what I meant” isn’t a refutation.

    ReplyReply
    6
  28. DK says:

    @Andy:

    If there was a contested primary now, do you think Biden would win it?

    Now? That’s a moot question. Why would there be a contested primary in the middle of summer?

    We don’t know that Democratic partisans + anti-Trump voters arent enough to win Biden the election, just like we don’t know Harris not being Biden will win her the election, or that anti-Biden voters will win Trump the election. None of us are clairvoyant, as much as OTB commenters love to think they can predict the future.

    What we know is that the current anti-Trump option is Biden, and if he steps aside, Harris. Hopefully, Biden will put his ego aside and make a clear-eyed decision on whether to step aside, or not, based on incoming data giving clues as to who between he and his vice president is more likely to win.

    ReplyReply
    3
  29. just nutha says:

    @JKB: Isn’t ousting their candidate against his will the position you were advocating for yesterday? Make up your mind!

    ReplyReply
    3
  30. just nutha says:

    @Andy: They’ll vote for a man in cognitive decline before they’ll vote for a woman? Absolutely! We wouldn’t even be looking at this question if Americans in aggregate weren’t that stupid and shortsighted. Republicans had the opportunity to choose a woman over a man in cognitive decline. How did that go?

    ReplyReply
    4
  31. DK says:

    @Jen:

    It’s entirely possible that they know how Harris plays in the swing states, even better than we do.

    If they’re not, let’s hope they spend the next couple of weeks doing this internal polling and focus grouping. That would be the kind of data needed to make an informed decision.

    Public polling saying Biden is losing right now does not qualify as sound data upon which this decision should be made. Should Trump have stepped aside in July of 2016 when he was losing to Hillary in the polls? Of course not. Romney led Obama in public polling for all of October 2012, including Gallup’s final survey. Should Obama have let Romney into the Oval Office then, to measure the drapes?

    Biden losing in polling in July 2024 is one snapshot of current opinion, but means somewhere between jack and squat as a predictive data point. What Biden needs for this serious decision (if he is humble enough to bend to it — sadly unlikely) is a few weeks of high quality internal polling comparing his standing to Harris’s in swing states and with key demographics.

    The media’s unnamed, anonymous sources claiming Biden is falling apart and that they knew it a long time ago is an even less relevant metric. Let them out and name themselves so they can be cross-examined, otherwise it’s just masturbation.

    ReplyReply
    2
  32. @JKB: This may be the most disingenuous comment you have ever made.

    ReplyReply
    3
  33. just nutha says:

    @Jen: Any woman running at this level is running from a campaign office on the corner of Damnedifyoudo and Damnedifyoudon’t. I suspect that many, if not most, women running for Congress run from the same office complex. That women hold high offices is probably a tribute to the old saw

    They say that a woman has to be twice as good as the best man to be considered adequate to the job. Fortunately, being twice as good isn’t a particularly high bar to jump.

    ReplyReply
    2
  34. @TheRyGuy: So, your argument is that the mainstream press who, the NYT in particular, has been harping on his age for months and is now the source of everything that we are discussing is not to be trusted?

    ReplyReply
    3
  35. DK says:

    @just nutha:

    They say that a woman has to be twice as good as the best man to be considered adequate to the job. Fortunately, being twice as good isn’t a particularly high bar to jump.

    Haha! True.

    But even then, you’ll have The Usual Suspects saying they “can’t stand to listen to her” thus making her a lousy candidate for the job. But just her, because there’s definitely no latent or subconscious sexism in my patriarchal American bro culture. Okay, well her and that one other powerful, ambitious, feminist woman — good gal, but also bad at applying for the job. Oh, and that other one too, she’s hectoring. But just them, I swear.

    ReplyReply
    1
  36. Jen says:

    @DK: Oh, gawd yes how could I have forgotten the “she’s too shrill” in my above comment.

    It’s the monologue from the Barbie movie, writ large.

    ReplyReply
    2
  37. DK says:

    @Jen:
    “She’s too shrill”
    “I can’t stand to listen to her”
    “She always sounds like she’s hectoring”
    “She’s unlikeable”

    But she’s a lousy candidate who’s bad at campaigning. Mmm hmm. Sure bro, go with that. Pfft!

    (I would pay good money to see a comparison of how many times references to likeability have appeared in print in connection with Hillary and Kamala vs the distinctly unlikeable Trump and DeSantis.)

    ReplyReply
    3
  38. Jack says:

    Fit to serve? No. And that should have been evident with the basement campaign, and most certainly the last two years. But partisans, and fraudulent media are what they are.

    To coin a phrase, “this is the deal:”

    Biden’s nothing more than a vicious demagogue with good PR and sycophantic media, an empty suit who built a family business based on access to himself. And now, when age makes him irrelevant, the family business collapses. He’s always been known as having a weak mind. Perhaps only surpassed from time to time by the likes of a Carol Mosely Braun.

    Its sad. I watch comments on this blog attempting all sorts of bizarre rationale that look more like Cheyne-Stokes breathing than real commentary.

    The DNC, White House, media and you all tried to put over a fraud. Got away with it for a few years. Its over. From a political viewpoint its just ugly.

    From a national security and confidence in institutions viewpoint its despicable. You should all be ashamed. Its not a baseball game.

    ReplyReply
    1
  39. Moosebreath says:

    @Jack:

    “Biden’s nothing more than a vicious demagogue with good PR and sycophantic media, an empty suit who built a family business based on access to himself. And now, when age makes him irrelevant, the family business collapses. He’s always been known as having a weak mind. Perhaps only surpassed from time to time by the likes of a Carol Mosely Braun.”

    You misspelled Trump’s name in the first word.

    ReplyReply
    7
  40. Gustopher says:

    If Biden were to step down, would it be better to do it before, after or during the Republican convention? It’s July 15th-18th.

    Just something for the “Joe Must Go” folks to ponder and speculate on. Something that might keep their new game fresh a little longer.

    ReplyReply
  41. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: Ooh, during the Republican Convention.

    Taking attention away from Trump would definitely annoy him.

    ReplyReply
    3
  42. Gustopher says:

    @Jack:

    The DNC, White House, media and you all tried to put over a fraud. Got away with it for a few years. Its over. From a political viewpoint its just ugly.

    To what end?

    If the goal was to anoint Harris as his successor, wouldn’t it have made sense to have him leave after the midterms? Let her be the incumbent when running this year? Get America used to the idea of a Presidential Vagina?

    Is there some other plan? Please, share it with the class so we can laugh at you.

    And that should have been evident with the basement campaign,

    It must burn you up that someone so manifestly brain dead was able to beat your Trump just by standing there with his mouth open, drooling. That’s what you think, isn’t it?

    From a national security and confidence in institutions viewpoint its despicable. You should all be ashamed.

    Is he being secretly controlled by people without security clearance? Did they wave security clearance requirements for his puppet masters?

    Does he keep dozens of documents in his bathroom and fight to keep them for some unknown reason.

    ReplyReply
    5
  43. Jen says:

    @Jack:

    From a national security and confidence in institutions viewpoint its despicable.

    HAHAHAHAHA *gasp/wheeze*

    Guys, Jack has just outed himself…this “persona” he’s posting under is performance art. Like, NEA-grant-funded level, art.

    There is no way that even a Trump supporter lacks sufficient self awareness to type the excerpted sentence. None. Not after Trump himself spent four years dismantling or attempting to dismantle institutions and absolutely shitting on any national security concerns.

    Nice one Jack, you had us going!

    ReplyReply
    4
  44. just nutha says:

    @Jen: During the convention may well be the best positioning for such an announcement. Any way it shakes out, there’s risk going forward. Realizing you should have moved on a day or two too late seems to be an ongoing theme with Silents/Boomers. 🙁

    ReplyReply
  45. Andy says:

    @gVOR10:

    It’s hardly Pavlovian. A Dem sack of potatoes, and its staff, and its co-partisans in Congress, would still support policies I desire, while the sociopath who is the alternative would actively oppose policies I desire. I seem to recall Dr. Taylor mentioning this phenomenon once or twice.

    Since you comment on a political blog, you are probably more in tune with policies and politicos than the average partisan. But it’s indisputable that lots of people (not just Democrats, BTW, there are lots of Pavlovian GoP voters too), vote on brand alone. Most people can’t be bothered to learn anything about, for instance, state and local races and will just vote for their tribe. That’s Pavlovian, in my view. You’re free to disagree, but that’s how I characterize voters who, in practice, only consider partisan brand.

    @just nutha:

    At this point, I’m going to assume that you will retreat to your usual “can’t put words in my mouth/know what I think” stance. I will note that I am going with the impression I’m left with after watching you bloviate here for a decade and remind you that “what you heard is not what I meant” isn’t a refutation.

    Perhaps I’ve spent a decade bloviating about that, but it’s for good reason. I’d remind you that I’ve also spent a decade trying to tell you and people like you that if you’re ever confused about what I actually think or believe, then all you have to do is ask, and I’ll tell you. And yet, that simple courtesy that would enhance understanding and decrease misunderstanding still seems beyond the capabilities of many here. And yes, I “bloviate” about it because it is really annoying, inherently dishonest, and douchey behavior. I’ll also point out again (more bloviating I suppose) that I try really hard to avoid doing that to you and others here, even though I’m often tempted to give you a taste of your own medicine. So again, I’d ask that you at least try to grant me the same courtesy.

    As for Harris, if you actually bother to read what I’ve written over the last year here or spend one minute searching the historical comments for what I said on a topic instead of assuming, you’d know that your characterization of my view is wrong. And one of the primary annoying things about your and other’s tendency to assume and put words in my mouth is that it puts me in the position of having to expend my time and energy to refute your false characterization. Fortunately I have some time today to do that.

    For roughly the past year I’ve suggested here that the Biden admin ought to raise Harris’ profile and try to improve her image to the public because, at the times I made those comments, I thought Biden’s health might make voters consider his VP more than usual in deciding their vote.

    The admin didn’t do that, so the issue with Harris, as I see it, is that no one really knows how she will do as President or what I see as likely – campaigning for the job herself on a short timeline.

    In part, that’s the curse of VPs generally, who aren’t supposed to have a significant profile in an administration that might compete or be problematic for the President. Her performance in the Presidential primary when she ran several years ago was bad, but that isn’t dispositive for how well she’d do if/when she replaces Biden in historically unique circumstances. We also don’t really know how she’d govern or how well she’d govern. So, my view on Harris is that there are too many unknowns for a good evaluation. I’d contrast with the Pavlovian partisans who, in this information deficit, will insist that she’d be great (Democrats) or insist that she’s terrible (Republicans).

    So, I’m not inherently negative about Harris – I honestly don’t know if she can win or be an effective President. And just to clarify, unlike most people, my two main criteria for the job, beyond basic fitness, are foreign policy and the ability to honorably and effectively lead the Executive branch. Where does Harris stand on those? I have no idea.

    Also, I’m cognizant of the reality that she – for better or worse – is the only feasible alternative to Biden. Should she become the nominee – and I think she will – then we’ll find out what she’s made of and how she does. And I’ll make my judgment about her ability to be an effective President then.

    Honestly, I really do hope that Harris is up to the challenge because I really don’t want another Trump Presidency.

    We wouldn’t even be looking at this question if Americans in aggregate weren’t that stupid and shortsighted. Republicans had the opportunity to choose a woman over a man in cognitive decline. How did that go?

    Well, to the extent Americans are stupid and shortsighted, that has long (many decades) been baked into the cake. Complaining about it may make one feel good and morally and intellectually superior, but it’s yelling at clouds.

    And yes, Republicans had an opportunity, and they chose the weaker candidate who is also bad in many ways we don’t need to belabor here. Not only do I think that was a mistake (and full disclosure—I voted in the Republican primary for Haley—in Colorado, independents like me can vote in either primary) by Republicans, but it also reflects a deep moral cancer in the party as well as the institutional problems that Steven spends so much time describing (democratic primaries are bad, etc.). But, as I said, I’m a realist. Trump is the nominee and has the support of most Republicans, and I don’t see that changing. So, I don’t see much use in fretting about circumstances that are baked in or doing more yelling at clouds by wishing that things were different. The state of the GoP is what it is, and there is no changing it this election cycle, barring a black swan.

    So, for those who want to see Trump lose (like me), the place where action can happen, and change can be made is on the Democratic side. And my view is – again – that Biden can’t win, and the only hope for the Democrats to beat Trump is for him to step aside and see if Harris can do better. Feel free to disagree with that, but I’d note that I’ve asked a couple of times now, and no one has come up with a theory of how Biden can overcome his various political problems to win. Logically, if one believes that Biden can’t win (as I do), then the only rational alternative is to bet on Harris even if she has her own political problems and even if there are a lot of unknowns.

    And – irony alert – the case being made in the comments here against Harris is that the electorate is sexist and racist, and therefore, she can’t win either, so…sticking with White Man Biden is better? I think there are a lot of moral and practical problems with that view, but this comment is already too long.

    @Jen:

    I was saying that the *campaign* has their own data, and internal data is usually pretty accurate and detailed, in fact it’s usually more accurate than the public polls that are published (or at least it was, back in the Stone Age when I was in politics). It’s entirely possible that they know how Harris plays in the swing states, even better than we do.

    Yes, and as I said, some of those internal numbers were leaked. Here’s the link again from another thread. If anything, it’s worse than the public polls for Biden and better for Harris.

    ReplyReply
    2
  46. Mikey says:

    Sen. Mark Warner works to gather Senate Democrats to ask Biden to exit race (gift link)

    Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) is attempting to assemble a group of Democratic senators to ask President Biden to exit the presidential race, according to two people with direct knowledge of the effort.
    Warner is telling Democratic senators that Biden can no longer remain in the election in the wake of his faltering debate performance, according to the people familiar with private conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. Warner has told others that he is deeply concerned that Biden is not able to run a campaign that could beat former president Donald Trump.

    ReplyReply
    1
  47. Kathy says:

    We’re nearing the point where the concern that Biden can’t win is about to turn into self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Donors stop sending money, supporters stop being supportive, concerned people keep raising their concerns interminably, and then comes November and Biden loses.

    So, either get him to drop out now, or STFU and get behind him as though your life depended on it*.

    There does remain one big effing problem. Should Biden do anything approaching the debate last week, he’ll be universally written off. Unless Wannabehitler does something like seven million times worse. remember, this is the creature who suggested injecting bleach to treat the trump virus, and still got tens of millions of votes a few months later.

    It may be hubris on Biden’s part to have gone for reelection at his age. But if so, almost everyone now running around in a panic shares in that sin. Few urged him not run for a second term, after all, and no serious candidates challenged him at all.

    I understand all the concern. Hell, I’m sure the 25th amendment will need to be invoked if Biden wins, possibly before summer of 2025. But the panic and drip-drip of calls for him to step down are making a bad situation worse.

    *A lot of lives literally depend on it. Women, minorities, LGBTQ+, Ukrainians, possibly others in Eastern Europe later on. So see above.

    ReplyReply
    7
  48. DK says:

    @Jack:

    Biden’s nothing more than a vicious demagogue

    Drama Queen Donnie incited the terror attack on the Capitol and now wants public military tribunals trying Luz Cheney. You sorry Rethuglikkklan extremists support this thuggery — why Democrats keep winning elections over your hatemongering MAGA cult.

    I watch comments on this blog

    Because it triggers you to tears folks here recognize Epstein-bestie pervert, rapist, and pedo Trump as a loser, liar, and lowlife supported by the same. (The twice-impeached criminal already lost the popular vote twice as most voters also recognize him as a demented shitstain.)

    The DNC, White House, media and you all tried to put over a fraud

    The RNC, Trump scampaign, and rightwing media have spent years lying about Trump’s 2020 loss. Nikki Haley is the only leader still among you who admitted your convicted felon standard bearer — constantly spewing lies and deranged word salad — is an unfit whackjob. But since she’s just as phony as you and the rest, she’s still voting for him. Pathetic.

    From a national security and confidence in institutions viewpoint its despicable.

    You and the GQP support a felon who colluded with Russian attacks on the US, says he wouldn’t care if Putin attacked Europe, threatened to withhold weapons from Ukraine based on blackmail, wrote love letters to North Korea, incited the Jan 6 terror attack, and recklessly left sensitive defense documents he illegally retained — including nuclear info — strewn unsecured across his home.

    Rather than turn on Trump for these disgusting crimes, you’ve helped him smear judges, courts, and federal law enforcement.

    Do you really think anyone here doesn’t know you Trump supporters don’t give a flying fuck about national security or trust in institutions? Or was the meth just extra good today?

    ReplyReply
    3
  49. Drew says:

    The expected responses. Drivel. High school level drivel. Knock yourselves out.

    Meanwhile, in the real world of adult commentary, to coin a phrase, “the walls are closing in” on Biden.

    The fraud has been exposed. Some leave their tongues up asses. Suit yourself. But responsible Democrats and Dem supporters are voting with money and opinion. What a shitshow.

    ReplyReply
  50. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Since you comment on a political blog, you are probably more in tune with policies and politicos than the average partisan. But it’s indisputable that lots of people (not just Democrats, BTW, there are lots of Pavlovian GoP voters too), vote on brand alone. Most people can’t be bothered to learn anything about, for instance, state and local races and will just vote for their tribe. That’s Pavlovian, in my view. You’re free to disagree, but that’s how I characterize voters who, in practice, only consider partisan brand.

    That is the least of it. It would be one thing if R or D was merely a cue, but it’s not.* The vast majority of people, including true swing voters, have a non/partisan identity that drives their vote.

    The true swing voter, that is, the one who is not a closet partisan, is still acting on the self-perception of being an independent thinker. But none have spent the time on major issues to truly understand them. On the whole, they may be less deluded than closet partisans, but they are no strangers to self-deception.

    Moreover, partisan identity is formed by all sorts of things that have very little to do with rationality. But individuals seem to universally think their decisions at the ballot box are the result of careful analysis.

    Much like the freedom of speech, many seem to be mostly concerned with merely exercising it rather than the function of that exercise. It’s like a football prospect who has an impressive physique, but who lacks the functional strength and flexibility to be productive in a football game.

    *Weak parties have reduced the utility of party-as-heuristic. I argue, though Steven may disagree, that this is true of Democrats, but much less so for Republicans, because of recent events within the Red Party, enabled by an archaic electoral system. But note that the D next to a name also means less than it should simply because Dems are a stew of various preferences and a several ideologies.

    ReplyReply
    1
  51. Kurtz says:

    @Jack:

    The DNC, White House, media and you all tried to put over a fraud.

    L-O-fucking-L, dude. You put forward a dude whose persona, tan, and hair are all fake. Not to mention that all that focus on ‘family values’ for decades went out the window in practice once a dude who literally said that his approach to fatherhood is to take over once the children become adults. Not to mention the divorces and philandering.

    But yeah, Biden is the fraud.

    Likewise, your “weak mind” comment is equally absurd. You are aware that a classic sign of weakness is overcompensation, yes? The person who loudly declares they are the best at one thing, rarely is. So what do you think about someone who loudly declares they are the best at everything?

    ReplyReply
    5
  52. Franklin says:

    One thing that occurred to me is Robert Hur’s infamous, “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” comment has more credibility now. Whether Hur was witnessing poor memory or cognitive decline might be debated, but he no longer seems to have generated that out of thin air. And it might explain why Republicans have been trying so hard to get the video released.

    ReplyReply
    2
  53. Zachriel says:

    @Andy: we generally read your posts with interest as they often contain insights. When replying, it’s usually on points where we may disagree, as here. {Besides, don’t you play Civ?}

    @Andy: Most people can’t be bothered to learn anything about, for instance, state and local races and will just vote for their tribe. That’s Pavlovian, in my view.

    While there is certainly some of that, team voting can be a rational choice. People may support a political party because the party more or less aligns with their views. They may not spend much time deciding on their local representative, but believe that supporting their team will strengthen their team on the larger playing field. They may indeed vote for a weaker candidate on their own team, for that reason.

    For example, voting for the weak Republican Senate candidate may mean Republicans control the Senate, thereby supporting Trump’s judicial nominations and legislative agenda.

    ReplyReply
    3
  54. @Zachriel: Agreed. “Pavlovian” suggests a mindless reaction.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*